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The best April Fool’s prank I’ve fallen for took place in 1976 when my alarm, tuned to wake me to CBC Radio One, buzzed on the hour. The newscaster announced that because Canada had adopted metric measurement for weights and distances the year before, henceforth Canadians would shift to metric time: there would be 10 hours in a day and 100 minutes in an hour. Ottawa would be subsidizing the cost of retooling our clocks and watches for the future.
“How had I missed this?!”
Not for a second did I remember it was April Fool’s.
Also, here’s perhaps the best April Fool’s, or rather, the best April Fakes of all.
1. Flying taxis by 2025. United Airlines plans an electric air taxi service from Chicago’s O’Hare to the city’s Near West Side. Time in the air? 10 minutes for the 25 km distance. Pearson is also 25 km from the CN Tower. Hmmmmm……
2. Whatever happened to Andy Byford? From 2011 to 2017, he ran the Toronto Transit Commission in what became its glory years. Then New York Governor Mario Cuomo filched him to head the New York City Transit Authority. On Byford’s watch, more trains arrived faster and cleaner. After fighting with Cuomo, Byford left New York in 2020 when London Transport hired him to run another one of the world’s busiest transit systems, where last May Byford opened the Elizabeth Line with The Queen. Then last month, Amtrak announced he would return to America to head their high-speed rail program which is testing a 2-hour, 26-minute service between New York and Washington. And where is Canada’s high-speed rail program? Andy, come back!
3. Canadian theatre gets a museum. Also long overdue is a national theatre museum. Last week, its board announced a new home in the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre in downtown Toronto and a $5 million campaign to design, build and help run it.
4. Awarding miracle-workers. One in four Canada Gairdner Awardees goes on to win the Nobel Prize. The Gairdners, founded by a Toronto stockbroker 66 years ago, are now among the world’s top scientific prizes, with each of 6 winners receiving $100,000 (plus $50,000 for two awardees in a new Gairdner Momentum Award). Here are this year’s awardees, announced on Thursday. As the saying goes, if you think research is expensive, try disease.
5. Weird and wonderful. 26 minutes of people just like us doing things we could never do.
6. Are we asking pharmaceuticals to do too much? Last year, the FDA allowed the diabetes drug Ozempic to be used for weight loss. Demand for it has skyrocketed. The BC government discovered one in five buyers of Ozempic is a US resident.
Speaking of drugs, they don’t make you more creative, nor does alcohol. The Guardian reported this week that British and German researchers believe travel, meditation, training and exposure to culture have a greater effect on artistic output. By the way, if you can’t read the whole Guardian piece, it’s not a paywall that’s blocking you; just sign up and you get a yearful of the paper at no cost. And if you can read but you just can’t sit down and write, here are 12 authors on beating writers’ block.
8. Inside fantasy watches. Watches are so much more than timepieces. I heard once that visitors to St. Moritz make sure you could see their Rolexes; in Pontresina, a few kilometres down the road, the citizens make sure you can’t see theirs. So here’s one rising ‘off-label’ use for your elegant wristband. Plus The Last Emperor of China and his $1 million watch.
9. The price of happiness is rising. Years ago, social scientists determined that a certain amount of money could buy an optimum amount of happiness. In 2010 that amount was $75,000 a year. But this month, Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and Matthew Killingsworth published a paper claiming that “well-being” can continue to rise with income well beyond $200,000.”
Also, just in case you thought success brings happiness, that’s changed too.
10. Beethoven’s Hair. Scientists studied some of his preserved locks to discover why he started going deaf at age 28 and why he died at age 56. They couldn’t connect his deafness with another malady, but they did conclude he had liver disease and hepatitis.